Reading Corner

Chef A.J.’s Unprocessed: Lovely Recipes without any added crap. I love this book and use it almost daily for inspiration in the kitchen. Includes Chef A.J.’s transition story to an entirely whole-foods, plant-based and UNPROCESSED diet (It hit really close to home and totally made me cry my eyes out. Last book I did this with was “Left to Tell” about the Rwandan Genocide).

The dessert section is incredible and alone would make the purchase worth while. Chef A.J. creates amazing desserts without any added oils or refined sugars and they taste phenomenal! That’s only the beginning. Chef A.J. also has a great website here with many video clips about making her fabulous recipes.

See here for my full book review.

Thrive Foods, by Vegan Triathlete Brendan Brazier. I was really excited to receive this book from Amazon and was disappointed after it arrived that it had so many ingredients that I couldn’t source locally (and you should see what’s in my pantry!) If you have lots of cash and can afford to live in Hollywood and have a personal trainer then this may be the right book for you. Sorry Brendan! Too fancy for everyday eating for me.

However, the sports drinks and gel recipes for athletes totally made this purchase worth while. From now on I will be making my own version of clif shots/GU in my reusable gel flask! Woohoo!

Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan. Beautiful food and recipes, most made with no added oil! Gives a good run down of the equipment and tools needed to operate a plant-based kitchen. Photos accompany many recipes which is a plus. Christy is part of the hipster vegan Hollywood club and knows her stuff.

Too bad the starting pages advocate the use of no onions or garlic due to them containing heavy energy or “qi”. Um, too out there, even for me. Plus I love onions and garlic and add them to nearly everything. So I add them to the recipes in this book when I make them too! By the way, last time I checked my “qi” or energy was awesome.

 The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esseltyn. This is a side-shoot book from the film “Forks Over Knives“A good intro for those new to a plant-based diet. Because of its manly format It may be an even bigger motivator to get the “MAN” in your life to go plant-based.

Pros: Has tons of information on why animal products are harmful, especially in regard to cholesterol. Includes exercises and stretches for weight loss. Lots of great recipes and transition ideas. Rip is one hot vegan firefighter! This book also has its own website and support group with recipes online.

Cons: Diet allows still uses lots of “natural” sugars, which is fine, but more than I would use for my family. Also  uses plenty of processed “vegan” meat products, which is okay if you love Boca Burgers….

Incredibly Delicious: This book was given to me by my brother and has been pivotal in my lifestyle change. Don’t let the 70’s looking cover and photos fool you! This is a really, really great cookbook and the recipes really are “Incredibly Delicious,” 

I especially like this book because it uses all whole foods and whole grains and is not at all “gimmicky.” (You would be surprised by the number of unhealthy vegan cookbooks out there containing loads of oils, white flours and refined crap). This book is super family friendly with familiar recipes and new vegan takes on old favorites. Some recipes still contain oil, I just omit it or substitute something else for it. It is the most comprehensive Vegan Cookbook in my kitchen.

The Complete IDIOT’S Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition by Julieanna Hever Julieanna is a super-knowledgeable plant-based dietitian who worked under Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s Plant-Based Certification Program at E-Cornell.

I really like this book because it provides the basic how to’s and why’s of going plant-based. It debunks myths like : “Insane amounts of protein are necessary,” “Milk and dairy are good for your bones” and lots of other popular folklore regarding the Standard American Diet in a fun and no-nonsense readable format. Includes many incredible recipes and even features Chef A.J.’s Unprocessed Brownies.

Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman This book was recommended to me by Amanda. So grateful Amanda! When it came to me in the mail, I gobbled it up! Dr. Fuhrman, where have you been all my life!?” I LOVE THIS BOOK. For those of you who really NEED to lose weight, this is the only diet book you will EVER need to read. If you follow his advice, it will be IMPOSSIBLE for you to keep carrying excess pounds. Even if you have tried every diet on the planet!

For those of you who want to go plant-based but need the science behind the lifestyle change to motivate you, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK TOO! It’s not just for weight loss, it is an essential book for overall health. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Don’t be swayed by Dr. Fuhrman’s slightly scary and gimmicky website. He is the real deal!

Amanda’s note: This was the first book to set us down the path to whole-foods, plant-based diet, thanks to a good friend of mine who has never felt more vibrant and alive than she does now, and the 60 pounds of lost weight didn’t hurt either. I couldn’t not read it after spending some time with her family.

Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon I like to think of this as the cookbook that Rachael Ray would write if she were a vegan. Awesome recipes in 30 minutes or less. Can’t beat that, especially as a lot of whole-foods meal preparation CAN be sooooo time-consuming.

Recipes do not sacrifice flavor or quality and all are made without added oil. Really good section on baked goods, which is helpful to newbies who haven’t yet learned to bake without butter, oil and eggs and really like some yummy treats, HELLO butter bean chocolate-chip cookies. You are fabulous! Many of Lindsay’s recipes can also be found on her super-cute website.

Forks Over Knives Companion BookThe handbook to theMovie. As you all know, I recommend the film to everyone. This is the first book I purchased when I cut all animal products out of my diet. It contains dozens of plant-based recipes, including those tasty looking ones that were featured in the film.

The book solidifies the information pertained in the documentary. It also adds additional information on going plant-based for animal rights. I like that it explains why we shouldn’t be consuming oils, including olive oil, which almost everyone I know thinks is healthy. This was never clear in the film.

Amanda’s Current reads:

how-to-cook-eveg.jpgHow to Cook Everything Vegetarian – Mark Bittman

It’s not a complete bible, but it’s totally a great go-to cookbook. It has recipes for just about everything and anything, and many of the recipes are marked with Vs for Vegan, but knowing substitutes there are hundreds more for easy modification. I haven’t loved his other “How to Cook Everything” books, but this one is straight-forward and has had some definite winners and LOADS of information.

The China Study – T. Colin Campbell & Thomas C. Campbell

It seems like this is the definitive basis for many of the current shifts to a whole foods, plant based diet. Dr. Campbell, now an emeritus professor at Cornell, worked on a HUGE dietary study (20+ years) after which he determined that a plant based diet is the healthiest diet. It has the dumbest name on the planet (I’m sorry, but college and grad school took their toll and “studies” are off my radar now), but it’s full of excellent information on the health value of moving to a plant based diet, namely the avoidance or reversal of what are known as the western diseases – cancer, heart disease, diabetes, but also mental illness, autoimmune disease, etc. It was my husband’s experience with this book and meeting a man who, after reading this book, reversed his cancer by going vegan, that got him on board the plant train. Good reading – but a bit slow.

In Defense of Food – by Michael Pollan

I’m re-reading this book for a second time, but for the first time after going plant based. The crux of this book is on the cover: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. I don’t think I really appreciated the “mostly plants” part until this go-round. Pollan, a journalist and not a scientist, takes a human approach to “what’s wrong with the American diet” while, at the same time, reviewing from a lay-person’s standpoint much of the nutritional “stuff” out there. He’s a proponent of eating local foods, foods in season, and increasing the plant intake and reducing processed foods. He’s a good writer so it’s pretty easy to read. Nothing is ground-breaking but he lays out a set of “rules” that provide a great foundation for whole foods eating. In fact, he wrote a book called Food Rules which is sort of the abbreviated version of this one.

Simple Food for the Good Life – Helen Nearing

I love this book. It’s one of the few books I’ve bought recently, but it is full of wonderful things. Helen and her husband were at the forefront of the homesteading movement, beginning in 1932, and wrote a series of books about living the “Good Life.” He lived to 100, and she to 91, and they loved and preached what they did. The recipes are simple, plant based, though she admits to loving ice cream as her weakness, and full of quotes from the dawn of time. Some of them are simply hilarious, and some are remarkably profound. I like the simple aspect of this book and enjoy just flipping through it and reading a few pages.

Original Fast Foods – by James and Colleen Simmons

This book was given to me by the authors’ daughter a few years back and until recently it sat on the shelf – I admit it, I’m sorry Rachael. My husband looked through it much more than I did, until a few months ago, when I was looking for more recipes! This book consolidates many of the current studies supporting a plant based diet, it has the recipes they’ve used in their transition, as well as his story about why he believes in it with his physical turnaround. It would be an excellent resource for someone who wanted to make the shift and could be uber-disciplined about it, since they provide menus, recipes, shopping lists, exercise program – the works. They even have a very useful online support system if you click the link above.

Animal Vegetable Miracle – by Barbara Kingsolver

15 thoughts on “Reading Corner

  1. Just got “The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook” at Costco today. Will have to look through it. Maybe next time we’ll get the baking one. One thing at a time.

  2. Do you suppose there’s any particular reason that all the section tabs are at the back of the book? Is there something about that technique that’s “tested” out better than others? I guess there’s “some assembly required.”

    • Thanks! It was super important for me to educate myself when switching to a plant-based diet so that I knew what I was doing. It also helped me to be more effective in the kitchen! I have since read the China Study and the Omnivore’s Dilemma. I highly recommend both 😉

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  4. I just noticed your new additions here Amanda! Awesome! Need to read some of those. I adore Mark Bittman! He writes for runner’s world all the time!

  5. Hi Somer,
    Thanks so much for stopping by! It’s given me the opportunity to check out your blog…real food, whole food, delicious food…all right up my (and Guaya Gourmet’s) alley! Not only am I following and looking forward to new posts, but I got a great book recommendation, too! (My husband is a runner and is very soon crossing over to the triathlon arena, so Thrive Foods looks perfect.) Thanks!


    • Thanks Nathalie! Now that I’ve been vegan a little longer and have my pantry a little better stocked, the Thrive foods book doesn’t seem as unattainably fancy 😉 Hope you husband enjoys it and that he has success in the Triathlon Arena too!

  6. I’m looking forward to purchasing the Forks over knives book! I love your blog…great info! Thanks for visiting mine as well! I’m still in the process of launching everything…. It’s so time consuming 🙂

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  10. I’ve been reading “Animal Vegetable Miracle” very slowly. And I’m on a quest to find my favorite vegan recipes. Thanks for this book list–I’m all over it!

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